Getting Back on Track When Real Life Derails Your Writing Routine

memoir mindset productivity May 04, 2021
When your writing schedule gets derailed

My schedule was all set. I had my writing time blocked out for the week—30 minutes first thing every morning. The week started out great. Monday I woke up early and put in an hour-and-a-half of writing, which basically pushed me ahead of my writing schedule for the week. Good thing, because on Wednesday morning, I was called into an unexpected meeting at my day job. My position was eliminated. I was suddenly unemployed.

I’ve never lost a job, except for once in high school when the insurance company where I did clerical work laid me off and paid me severance, which amounted to more than I would have earned if I had actually worked all summer. Go figure.

This turn of events has been more than a little disruptive. If you’re among the ranks who have been let go from a job, you probably know the grief, anger, sadness, and fear that accompany having your career upended. Even though the decision to cut my role from the company org chart wasn’t based on performance, it still has left me feeling a little wobbly.

At the same time, I feel optimistic about the future and even excited about what’s now possible because I’m not working 9-5. I finally have time to build up Write Your Own Life and pursue my long-time dream of working with writers to get their memoirs across the finish line.

Oddly, though all things are possible now, I’ve struggled to muster the energy to do even the things I love most, like writing. Not having energy has caused me to worry, what if I never feel like writing again? It’s a scary thought, and I’ve had to wrestle it down to the ground more than once these past two weeks.

Have you ever had a life event throw you off your game like this?

Being suddenly jobless has completely derailed my daily writing routine. This week, I resolved to move back into action, gently. I’m giving myself permission to feel all the feels that go with loss. I’m also creating some structure to move into action so that I can feel the satisfaction of achieving something each day. It’s a lot easier to build momentum when you have a win to celebrate no matter how small.

For instance, last Friday, I scheduled 30 minutes in the morning to work on rewriting a portion of my memoir. I told myself that I only had to write for 30 minutes. If I didn’t have energy or interest in working more when the timer went off, I was free to shut my laptop for the day.

Not surprisingly, the 30 minutes flew by, and I actually ended up writing for another hour. That was a big, first win to get me back on track.

Yesterday, I tried the same thing. About 15 minutes into my rewriting, I was overcome with fear and doubt. All of my words on the page looked like garbage to me. A wave of fear and overwhelm washed over me. Tears came unbidden, and all I could do was close my laptop, curl up in bed, bury myself under the covers, and cry.

Today, I got back on the horse, set my timer, and wrote for 45 minutes. When I re-read my words from yesterday, I realized they weren’t all garbage. My perspective was just clouded.

I’ll keep committing to 30 minutes each morning with permission to stop writing if I don't want to continue At this pace, I’ll still be making steady progress on my memoir. Chances are, once I start writing, I’ll likely keep working beyond 30 minutes each day.

Life happens and disrupts our best-laid plans. When your writing routine gets derailed, a simple commitment to start again and reset your routine can be just enough to get you back on track. (My free guide, “7 Tips to Start (and Finish) Writing Your Memoir” has other tips to help you get a good routine in place, too.)

If you’ve got more tricks for regaining control when your writing plan gets off-track, please share them with me. I’ll take all the help I can get right now.


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